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WE may remark fome precious relics of ancient traditions in this fame
ode. The fons of Japhet, father of the northern and weftern world, from whom the Greeks and European nations are derived, first steal fire from heaven:
Audax Japeti genus
Ignem fraude malâ gentibus intulit.
It was the wrath of heaven which abridged the life of man, and death heretofore tardy haftened his fteps.
Semotique prius tarda neceffitas
(b) Page 598.
Many metaphyficians agree in fcouting an innate moral fenfe as well as innate ideas. They cannot deny an instinct to the brute creation; why
refuse it entirely to man? It is the real guide of the former, but, fufceptible both of amelioration and in fome degree of deviation by education, why should it not be allowed as an impulfe to the other? Irrational animals follow it unerringly if left to themselves. The purfuit of hares and foxes is the natural inftinct of hounds; but, though naturally afraid of man, they may be taught to follow and relish his blood in preference. To man instinct can only be a firft impulfe, which his own reafon or his bias to imitation may change or warp. By fome it is contended, that there can be no innate moral fenfe, becaufe whole nations have been found to adopt as meritorious, actions which others univerfally condemn. To fuch I fhall fuggeft the following remarks. It is generally deemed piety to cherish our aged parents, whilft in fome countries it is piety to put an end to their existence. But this laft proceeds from the fame general inftinct of gratitude, which fome nations think beft anfwered, by terminating at once a life which has already or will shortly become burdenfome to the poffeffor. We reafon the fame with respect to aged or difeafed horfes or dogs. No favage yet thought it right to put to death the benefactor who had juft faved his life, at least if not a declared enemy to his tribe. Should it happen in the latter cafe, it can only be because his acquired or political reafon has got the better of his natural impulfe. On this ground it was that Virginius facri ficed his innocent daughter to family honour or to the public good.
In my opinion, what is called the confcience of man is ever juft and upright, when not debafed by brutal ignorance, or warped by national or private interefts and paffions. In fome defolate and frozen climates, the favage, ftupidly infenfible to every thing that relates not to the means of subfiftence or to the groffeft gratifications, has very few ideas beyond those appetites which fway the brute creation. In more advanced-societies, right or wrong, rigidly adhered to within themselves, is circumfcribed within the narrow walk of the particular tribe or community. In the moft polished nations, prejudices and habits originating in the interefts of the ruling part or in miftaken ideas of religion not only obfcure the idea, but convert
crimes into heroic virtues. In Indoftan, women, though poffibly cherishing little or no real affection for their tyrant hufbands, were and are still taught that it is dishonourable not to burn themselves alive in the prime of youth on the funeral pile of a deceased lord, though old, infirm, or churlish in his lifetime. This probably originated not fo much in fuperftition, as in the policy of men having many wives to guard their own fafety from jealousy and disappointment, and to fecure the fidelity of females looked upon as fubfervient property. In other nations, it was in like manner cuftomary to bury with their chiefs and heroes, arms, horfes, flaves, and fometimes favourite courtiers. The notion inculcated was to ferve them in another world; but the most probable original motive was to fecure the fidelity of those more immediately about them in the present.
In individuals confcience is frequently clouded and fometimes totally perverted by interest and paffion. Subtle fophifts thefe, they are ever at hand to glofs over and give a favourable colouring to whatever may at first alarm it. The tyrant or ufurper who facrifices thousands to his ambition veils, even to himself, his crimes under fome fpecious pretexts: his talents will confer glory and profperity on nations, and vanity fuggests that he alone is worthy to command. The appetites or pleasures he indulges in are wellearned relaxations from care and folicitude, and habit makes them neceffary. In inferior ftations, the means of advancing, however vicious, become juftified by general practice. Gradually enfeebled confcience fcarcely ftartles at crimes of deeper hue; till it at laft becomes dormant, and wakens nct but to give from time to time fome tranfitory ftings of remorfe, foon repelled by the more vigorous habits of vice.
The pride of genius, of fcience, or of wit, is perhaps no lefs an enemy to conscience than the more impetuous paffions. Philofophic pride has aimed to drag the godhead from his throne, has broken down thofe barriers which confcience yet upheld, and equalized vice and virtue. Elated by either really fuperior, or not unfrequently by imaginary talents, the new Titans of the 4 H
age affix the ftigma of imbecility on all who dare not equally with them; and every witling, borrowing a few of their phrafes, fancies himself a philofopher; even females enter the lifts as champions of infidelity :-but of philofophy as of poetry, we may fay with Pope,
A little learning is a dangerous thing:
To the paffions of this motley crowd, however individually contemptible, their fage legiflators addrefs themselves in every shape and form, and in return receive new incenfe and celebrity. What enormities their principles diffused amongst the multitude are capable of producing, the example of a neighbouring nation has fufficiently evinced. May it at least be a lafting warning to pofterity!
Page 18 Line
laft line, Heraclides, read Heraclida
Sethura, read Ketura
Egialaus, read Ægialeus
Mechecan, read Mechoacan
p. 217, l. 6. —p. 240, l. 14.—p. 251, l. 7 & 14.—P 339, l. 11.
p. 150, 1. 19. p. 151, 1. 29.-p. 152, 1. 24.-p. 292, 1. 14.-
depofit, read depofite
Mr. Count, read Mr. Court
the fame, read that fame
Belgium. read Belgium, and line 12, Britain, read Britain.
thefe planets, read their planets
5-6, & 15.-p. 326, l. 1.-p. 329, l. 16. p. 374, 1. 7, vitrifiable,
Catherine read Catharine
Atalantis read Atlantis
who, read whole
13 carcafe, read carcafs
with, Judea, read with Judea,
p. 24, l. 10 & 13.—p. 56, l. 23. 3102 read 3101
cotemporaries, read contemporaries
fucceffors; dele ;
menftruums, read menftrua.
though now, add unusual
Fero read Ferro
Pacific antarctic, read Pacific and antarctic